2017-08-31 / Front Page

Enrollment up at three schools

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” for anyone who gets excited about learning.

Just over 2,300 students enrolled in schools located in Leelanau County are enjoying their last weekend of summer break, preparing to return to the classroom Tuesday.

As of yesterday, three public schools in the county are expecting an increase in enrollment, while one is looking at a significant decrease.

For the first time ever, Glen Lake Community Schools and Leland Public Schools put caps on the number of School of Choice students accepted at specific grade levels.

Glen Lake is expecting the largest turnout in the county with 736, up from 716 last fall.

There’ll be no first-day jitters for superintendent Sander Scott.

“I’m more nervous for our first day back with teachers,” Scott said Tuesday. Glen Lake teaching staff’s first day back on the job was Monday. “If they have all they need and their first days back are productive, the kids will do well. back and eager to learn.”

Glen Lake Elementary enrollment is expected to come in at 359 students; middle school at 166 and the high school with 261.

Still, enrollment is expected to be higher at both schools than this time last year.

Leland will have its highest-ever enrollment at 514.

“We have big groups all the way across the board,” superintendent Jason Stowe said.

Leland capped enrollment in grades 1-4 and 8th grade. Still, the headcount is 29 pupils higher than that recorded last fall — and nearly double the 275 recorded 50 years ago in the Aug. 31, 1967, issue of the Enterprise.

At that time, Northport Public School had 300 students — 140 in high schools and 160, elementary.

This year, 153 students are enrolled at the county’s smallest public school, about the same as 2016-17.

Northport’s 2017 graduating class numbered four. The same number of students started kindergarten at Northport last year.

But it’s a different story this fall. Seventeen seniors are expected to return to school next week. And teacher Peter Morio has prepared for a class of 12 kindergarteners next week.

“It’s very exciting,” said Morio, who is beginning his 16th year in the classroom. “It’s always exciting for kids … getting their school clothes and stepping on the bus.”

Excitement isn’t the only feeling expressed by the youngest school-aged kids.

“The emotion of letting go of mom or dad can produce some tears,” Morio said. “But for the most part, the kids are excited and OK.”

This year is also significant for Morio as his oldest child, Noelle, will begin her school career in kindergarten at Lake Leelanau St. Mary.

“It will be fun. We get to color,” said Noelle, who will be among 207 students at a school whose origins go back to 1887.

Both Morio and his wife, Sarah (Rexroat) Morio, are St. Mary graduates.

Enrollment at St. Mary is just over 60 students fewer than the school’s 1967 headcount of 270 which included 170 grade-school students and 100, secondary.

The high school population that stood at 57 last year, now numbers 63.

At Suttons Bay, interim superintendent Mike Carmean said he’s confident the school will meet the 527 student figure used to determine revenues in the district’s 2017-18 budget.

“Our goal is 527 and I think we are going to make it,” he said.

The number includes 120 full-time equivalent (FTE) students participating in Suttons Bay’s virtual program. Through Tuesday enrollees in the online program totaled 93, up from 89 just the previous day. The number of participants in the program is fluid and can change daily.

Also, the number of “brick-and-mortar” students is anticipated to fall from 450 on the first day of classes in 2016 to 407 on Tuesday when doors open.

There is good news for the district: A second class of kindergarten was needed to accommodate more first-year students.

And grades 4 and 5 combined total 69 students, which Carmean said is encouraging.

“I look forward to meeting our student next week as school begins,” said Carmean, whose one-year contract as interim began earlier this month. “I wish to remind our community that this is your school district — please help us promote the positive.

“This will be an awesome school year,” he said.

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